Ours is an age that prizes privacy. Yet we also inherit a tradition, dating from ancient times, East and West, that sees the good life in terms of promoting the common good, or at the least, not detracting from it. Politics or some form of public career has proven a time-honored pathway to such fulfillment. Of late, however, philanthropy and other forms of non-profit public service have come to the fore as important constituents of civic value. In this discussion, Professor Paul Lichterman will challenge students to examine from a variety of perspectives and disciplines the need for a commitment to the common good as an essential component for the conduct of life.
Professor of Sociology and Religion Paul Lichterman’s specialty areas include culture, religion, civic organizations and social movements, politics, qualitative methodology, and theory. Professor Lichterman’s research asks how people practice active citizenship and define public issues in a socially unequal, culturally diverse society. He also theorizes how culture shapes action in everyday life, and how people in turn use culture, and he writes on the logic of qualitative research. With grants from National Science Foundation and the Spencer Foundation, Professor Lichterman is studying the different ways that public organizations define and act on housing issues and homelessness. The study involves an innovative combination of methodologies including ethnography and network analysis, and ultimately will include a cross-national comparison. Professor Lichterman received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.